Today we’ve got a lovely treat on the blog, a guest post from my friend Woolly Wormhead (and I’ve got a matching blog post up on her blog today as well!)
A few weeks ago Carol and I were chatting about the idea of doing a blog post swap, which seems such a good idea, considering our shared interests in engineering and construction. After chatting through a few ideas, we settled on refinement and simplicity, something we’ve often talked about before.
In my former life as an art teacher, I taught design to exam students, and one of the important discussions that used to come up time and time again was the need to refine. To reduce. To know what to take out. One of the key things I remember from my foundation course was exactly this – it’s a mantra within design school that gets passed down.
Putting that into practice though isn’t necessarily a conscious thing – it’s something that progresses; refinement develops with experience. Even knowing what I do and teaching what I did, I’m still evolving and developing, and that’s always a good thing.
It’s too easy to over-design. To get excited and put everything into something. There’s also another aspect that crops up from time to time – the idea that a complicated design is cleverer. That by making something challenging, it’s a better design. From my experience I think it’s something a lot those new to design are faced with, yet all it serves is to, well, complicate things.
‘Simple’ gets a bad press sometimes. But it’s not the same as basic. Simple is refined. It’s considered. It’s thoughtful. It says that it can stand alone by itself and stand tall. Simple isn’t necessarily easy; it too can be pretty challenging, both in it’s design process, and in it’s execution. A simple knit design can look easy yet have taken an awful lot of work to make it so. A simple knit design can look complicated, but the designer has cleverly worked out how to make it easy to make.
Knowing what to take it really is the key, and having a theme helps greatly. Having been designing for variegated yarns for a while and thoroughly enjoying the process, many of my recent designs have become yet more refined. Something as simple as a line can take on a new meaning when that’s all the design is about; taking the rest of the stuff out allows that element to take the stage.
Designing is a never ending journey; ideas follow through and develop and we follow tangents – that’s the joy of being able to design for ourselves. Pattern writing continually develops and changes as styles change, but also as we grow. We learn, we develop, we explore and we refine. It’s a continual journey, and by embracing the art of the simple, we allow ourselves that much more creative freedom.
Thank you so much Woolly for sharing your thoughts, definitely something to strive for!